As a CEO, there is an ever-existing tension between leading the management team to grow your business, and spending time with your front-line team members and clients – where the real action in every business happens.
At times, at The Physio Co I’ve focused too much of my time on building a strong leadership and support team.
That has sometimes meant I’ve spent more time systemising culture in the office and less time on the road with our physio team and clients.
That’s been a mistake, because I haven’t spent enough time supporting, serving, checking, influencing and reinforcing culture in other parts of our business.
As I learned from The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard, I am forever trying to catch people doing something right.
That approach, as opposed to the typical management habit of catching people only when they do something wrong, is how a leader can show his or her appreciation every day.
I want to catch staff doing the right thing – and celebrate it!
That’s why time with team members in all parts of our business is important for my job as CEO.
When we catch people doing something right, rather than some sort of formal recognition every time, we just express our appreciation directly to the team member, in the moment. It’s a very grateful way to go about our work every day.
Of course, noticing mistakes and taking time to firstly understand what’s happened and then redirect team members to better performance is also part of the job for every leader. After all, sometimes we win and sometimes we learn.
In a business with a caring and conscious culture: it’s very much a learning atmosphere in which people aren’t concerned about trying something new.
An imbalance between building culture and delivering billable services, or selling product, is a sign you need to help your team figure out how to grow a culture while still growing the business.
Your team’s challenge of making sales, over balancing culture, is really your challenge. That balance is what CEOs need to pay attention to. It’s the eternal balance between people and performance that every team needs to strive toward.
As a life-long student of entrepreneurial and values-based businesses, I’ve learnt:
- From the research of SmartCompany founder Amanda Gome - that entrepreneurial businesses often get ‘stuck’ in their growth cycles when they get to a certain number of team members (e.g. 10, 30, 50, 100 etc.). So the CEO needs to be prepared for likely challenges and ensure the culture stays strong through periods of change and probable resistance.
- From Richard Branson - that successful entrepreneurs should always have enough time to be able to dive back into challenging parts of their businesses when they’re needed. That means the CEO needs to regularly monitor the culture and be ready to get involved and to lead with the right amount of humility and drive.
It’s important the CEO takes complete responsibility for the culture of their business, especially when there are challenges or sticking points that will always arrive when you are focused on growth.
It is the CEO’s job to make sure the system is alive and thriving.
And if there are areas that aren’t working, it’s your job to roll up your sleeves and sort them out.
Life is about oscillations: the inevitable ups and downs.
To achieve phenomenal growth, move away from being a manager with not enough time to complete your job and become one of the best places to work in your industry.
The same applies for growing a family, a business, yourself, and of course a strong culture – there will be great times and rough times. But with persistence and patience, you will get there.
A strong culture is the only way to ensure you, your company and your people are ready for significant growth over the long haul.